There is something inherently uncomfortable about a group of people who do not live in Detroit attempting to sway local elections. Farber recognizes this criticism but says that in the several cities where she's lived, there's an untapped energy around young, ex-Michiganders who want to do something for Detroit and deserve to have a voice.
"There's money out there that people wanted to spend on helping the city," says Farber, who grew up in suburban Oak Park and Royal Oak. "Part of the reason we thought we should tap into the expats is because it's a community that isn't being focused on, and yet we're all over the country. We wanted to prove that the borders of Michigan don't stop people's love for the state or where they grew up."
Detroit XPAC is a small operation right now, with a small national advisory board and a local Capitol Beltway advisory board. Most of the people involved are young professionals who work in urban design and on environmental issues and are volunteering their time. The PAC plans to launch similar local advisory boards in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and Florida, where expats there could fundraise and host events.
"We wanted to prove that the borders of Michigan don't stop people's love for the state or where they grew up."
The PAC is currently looking at four or five races — federal, state and local — where members feel they can make a distance. The group is eying the race to succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin and a few House contests, in addition to the Michigan gubernatorial election and some other state races. It hasn't decided which races to endorse yet. For Detroit XPAC, this cycle is a trial run for the larger test in 2016. Soon, the group will send out questionnaires to different candidates in races in which the PAC plans to endorse. From there, the national advisory board will make its endorsement and decide which campaign to contribute money to.
While the economy there has shown recent signs of progress — through the auto industry, a booming start-up culture, and promises from corporations to invest in the city — there's still more to the recovery equation. The city's bounce-back is highly dependent on leadership, which Detroit has historically lacked, considering the countless politicians — from city counselors to mayors — sent to jail on corruption changes. And with a city that still struggles to fulfill the basic promises of a municipality, like turning on city lights and plowing roads, leadership is a fundamental need.
"In the local races, smaller donations can make a lot of difference," Farber says. Good governance and smarter zoning decisions, the group notes, are the next steps to recovery.
But while the group claims to be nonpartisan, Farber admits that the group is likely to endorse more Democrats than Republicans. That just comes down to the progressive core of the group. She has no problem endorsing a moderate Republican, should the situation arise.